Thursday, March 4, 2010

Let's Run. Fast.

We're were off to the Peak trailhead just after dawn. We missed the bulk of sunrise, but caught a few straggling pink clouds in the east.

Before Kona and I left home, I decided that we both needed a good workout today. Instead of adding mileage to our run, I thought we'd just try to run faster. Now, I'm not fast. Ever. I'm very good at finding a pace that I can stick to for miles, but that's not a fast pace. In other words, I could finish a crazy Ultra run, but I could never run a fast marathon.

I was reminded very quickly of how my body takes a good 40 minutes to relax into a run. My quads burned after the first switchback, and I'm afraid of lactic acid.

I was glad Kona felt like sniffing. I needed a break. I took out the camera while she explored and looked up towards the ridgline where we were headed.

We had stopped next to a new retaining wall. Kona checked it out.

As the seconds ticked on during our break, Kona became anxious. She has a nervous habit of jumping onto high places. I held my breath as she eyed the retaining wall, with its 2 inch metal top. Kona's agile, but not 2-inch-retaining-wall agile.

When she landed safely, I promised Kona we wouldn't stop until the top. I pushed harder than usual, but I'm pretty wimpy when things start hurting. I did notice my quads and legs felt tired as we rounded the last corner.

We made it to our Peak and the sun felt bright against the chilly air. Kona posed by the all-inviting Yucca. Note of caution: Never fall on a yucca.
Kona explored cautiously as another hiker shared our lookout point. I moved away from the man and let Kona explore the ruins from an old hotel.
On our way down, I found my rhythm. I often feel off-step on descents as I manage Kona and guard my ankles from turning. Today, Kona stayed by my side for nearly the entire descent. With my ankle braced, I took off.

We ran fast. At least AC fast. I have a hard time explaining how fun a trail run can be. There's a technical side to running trails that I didn't get when I first started. With steep terrain and rocks to move around, you have to be on your game. For the first time in awhile, I took my breaks off and let gravity and technique do their thing. Weeeeeee!!!!

I think Kona had to work for the first time. She had met her trail match! With a bit of runner's high in my veins, and my dog by my side, I ran down the trail with a spark in my eye.

When we hit the bottom, we made the final scary push to the car. I packed a bag of chicken to help Kona with the transition. It was hard for her. She took a few pieces of chicken, but the treats didn't distract her like I hoped. I'm also not sure if they helped make any positive association with the walk out. This is an area that I feel pretty helpless with. I'm just not sure if it's possible to make it less scary for her without more foundational work that will help tone down her hypervigilance.

Despite the rough finish, I was happy. I just hoped that Kona felt the same endorphins and exploring rush, and that they were enough to overcome the things that made her nervous.

On the Training Front
CGC test tonight!


Sara said...

What a great post! I felt like I was on the trail with you. I used to run (on streets, not trails), and I so miss that runner's high, but not the pain in my thigh! LOL.

Don't worry too much about that transition in the parking lot. Kona may always have a tough time there, but I'm sure the fun of the run is more powerful than the moment of nervousness.

Good luck at your test tonight.

Sam said...

Wow! I could really feel the rush as you described your run, but look at that jump! That girl has a future in agility! (And, speaking from experience, it can REALLY help a fearful dog!)

Best of luck tonight. Even if you don't get the certificate, I'm sure it will be an awesome experience. I can't wait to hear about it.